At 0.75 miles and only 70 feet of elevation gain, the trail around Lake Elizabeth might sound like the perfect family hike, especially for toddlers or other family members with limited mobility.
Unfortunately, the trail doesn't see regular maintenance, and it's not uncommon to see multiple trees down. There are two bridges along the way as well, but their condition may not be suitable for young kids. It is brushy, prone to flooding, and hard to follow in places. The biggest concern is the bridge across Money Creek, which you must cross in order to complete the loop around the lake. It is rotten, slick and tilting towards the creek below. During the rainy season this can be a dangerous crossing.
In its current state, this would be a good trail for adventurous adults or older kids who want to try their hand at exploring an unmaintained trail. Because the actual route is straightforward (walk counterclockwise around the lake, keeping the body of water visible on your left) there's little risk of getting lost.
There is, however, risk of slipping/falling through old, algae-covered bridges; temporarily losing the trail due to blowdowns; incurring scratches and scrapes from overgrown vegetation; and getting soaked as you slosh through bogs and shallow creeks. Luckily, your car is never more than a mile away and you brought a change of clothes, right?
Head counterclockwise around the lake because this puts you at the Money Creek crossing almost immediately, getting the most significant obstacle on the trail over with quickly. If your group doesn't feel comfortable with this crossing, go clockwise instead, with the understanding that you will need to retrace your steps.
Although the trail is a bit rowdy, the lake itself is calm and serene. In some places, the water is clear enough to see grass waving gently along the sandy bottom, while bufflehead ducks float quietly across the surface. Because the road has only recently re-opened, most people still assume that visiting this lake involves a road walk, which keeps the crowds away. For those who want solitude and adventure without a lot of distance or elevation gain, Lake Elizabeth is a great little daytrip!
WTA Pro Tip: If you’re looking for some good coffee and a great view of Mounts Index and Persis, stop by the Espresso Chalet on your way to or from the trailhead. Park next to Bigfoot (really), buy a drink from the coffee stand and then wander onto the back patio to gawk at the triple peaks of Mount Index while you sip your coffee.